By: Dawson Wright
USA Today Sports / Reuters
In probably the 2nd biggest move of the whole off-season (Stanton is first), the Angels were able to sign Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. And with what I feel has gone under the radar, Ohtani has been having a horrible spring. Check that, horrible may be an understatement.
During spring training, Ohtani is hitting 2 for 20, which accumulates to a .100BA. I mean, it is still spring training, and Ohtani was brought here mostly to pitch anyways.
In the two games Ohtani has started, he has had a total of a 27 ERA, and a 4.12 WHIP. Obviously, we cannot go just off of his ERA and WHIP. In the two games he has pitched, he has had a total of 2.2 innings pitched. So his ERA and WHIP will be greatly skewed, especially with how bad those outings were.
After his first start, Ohtani spent a few games with minor league competition as a pitcher, mostly for him to try and figure out what was going on with his mechanics, or whether it was just in his head.
As a hitter, a 2 for 20 stretch (which includes minors games), either means that he is in a slump, or he just isn’t very good. For Ohtani’s case, let’s hope it it just a slump. But it has been very aware to the public that Ohtani has been having trouble reaching the inside pitch at the plate.
A few factors that may contribute to his struggle to connect with inside pitches may include:
Ohtani being in a slump
Pitchers in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (Ohtani’s league in Japan) would rarely pitch him inside to avoid his risk for injury
However, just like Ohtani’s skipper Mike Scioscia, I believe Ohtani will adjust no problem once the regular season gets up and running at full speed. With all that Shohei has to deal with right now, is it really that much of a surprise that he is struggling in spring training? The pressure that is on Ohtani to perform is unbelievably. Being ranked the #1 prospect going into this season without even playing a major or minor league game in that country must be terrifying. Although it is spring training, the competition in spring training is better than it is in Japan (that includes minor league games).
I never really saw Ohtani as much of a hitter though. He does have some power potential, but hitting .286 in Japan isn’t that much to marvel over. His pitching is what he is really here for, and I have full faith in him that he will become the Angels best pitcher by July at the latest. And hit some dingers on the side.